12/17/2015 1:40PM

Richies Sweetheart likely to zip to the front in Lightning City

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Richies Sweetheart wins the Turf Amazon Handicap in September at Parx.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – Richies Sweetheart has won races at six different tracks and will look to add Tampa Bay Downs to that list Saturday in the $100,000 Lightning City Stakes for fillies and mares. The five-furlong turf sprint is the only event on the 10-race card for Cotillion Festival Day that isn’t for 2-year-olds. First post is 12:28 p.m. Eastern.

Richies Sweetheart, a 4-year-old Bring the Heat filly trained and co-owned by Larry Rivelli, has been idle since a fifth-place finish in a $65,000 optional claimer on Hawthorne’s main track Oct. 21. In that race, she bobbled at the break and pressed the pace, ending a streak of 22 consecutive starts in which she led at either the first or second point of call.

“She had a little bit of an excuse in the last race,” Rivelli said. “She bruised a foot, I believe, at some point in the race, so I turned her out for a few weeks. She’s doing super and training great, so I expect a big effort. I don’t think anybody is going to beat her to the lead.”

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Richies Sweetheart has been at her best in turf sprints, going 6 for 9, including wins in the $78,900 Brandywine Stakes at Indiana Grand in July and the $200,000 Turf Amazon Handicap at Parx Racing in September. At Parx, she finished that five-furlong race in a sizzling 56.36 seconds and earned a 96 Beyer Speed Figure, equaling her career best and topping Saturday’s field.

The runner-up in the Turf Amazon was Joya Real, who was beaten two lengths. The 6-year-old mare is a two-time stakes winner on the Monmouth Park turf and transferred that good form to Tampa on Nov. 28, taking a $100,000 optional claimer by three-quarters of a length. The horses who ran second through fourth that day – You Bought Her, Imperial Secret, and Double Secret – all return in the Lightning City’s oversubscribed field.

“I’m hoping for a repeat of her last effort,” said Kathleen DeMasi, who trains Joya Real. “My filly is always trying.”


Richies Sweetheart (Last 3 Beyers: 60-79-96)

◗ She shows a pair of local works in preparation for her return from a two-month break.

Joya Real (Last 3 Beyers: 86-90-87)

◗ She has finished in the money in 11 consecutive starts, including six stakes races.

Katie’s Kiss (Last 3 Beyers: 88-94-87)

◗ This Stonestreet Stables sophomore lures top local jockey Antonio Gallardo after a pair of strong efforts on turf at Gulfstream Park West. She won a no-conditions allowance in October with a 94 Beyer and last out was second in the Sunshine Millions Turf Sprint Preview for trainer David Fawkes.

Desert Steel (Last 3 Beyers: 88-81-94)

◗ She is making her first start outside of California following a daylight score on the Del Mar turf last month.

Iroquois Girl (Last 3 Beyers: 91-90-85)

◗ She makes her stakes debut after going 3 for 5 on turf.